Gender Stereotypes: Masculinity

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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, masculinity is defined as “having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man.” This definition is straightforward but vague and leaves interpretation to the imagination. Based on this definition, the idea of masculinity can vary from person to person, region to region, culture to culture, nation to nation. Because of this, I interviewed both men and women to find out what masculinity means to them and observe how differently this word can be defined. Five students, of Reinhardt University, were interviewed in pursuit of the meaning of masculinity. Mckenna Pruett, Casey Thompson, Mason Smith, Ella Hilliard and Casimir Isles.

First, I asked each of them what came to mind when the word “masculinity” was mentioned. I almost received the same results across the board. Masculinity, brought to mind, the ideas of physical and mental strength, dominance, deep voices and tall builds. However, most of the interviewees mentioned at least one different characteristic. Pruett mentioned deep-voiced, Thompson compared masculinity to being Australian, Smith thought of beer, Isles mentioned the idea of being controlling and Hilliard stated that,” Everything comes to mind.” I ask why, and she replied that masculinity could be embodied by both men and women.

I then asked if everyone’s view of masculinity was affected by how they grew up. Most everyone said yes to this question, but it was evident that there were many different influences. Specifically. Pruett stated, “I grew up with my brothers, so my default views of masculinity are because of that.” Thompson said, “Where I grew up had no influence, but video games and TV did.” Hilliard explained that her views came from her family, but her opinions didn’t truly form until her teenage years.

Next, I asked everyone on their opinions over the show of emotion in regard to masculinity. Everyone agreed that anger was stereotypically linked, and some said that, stereotypically, displays of happiness and sadness were not masculine. However, Pruett said that happiness was masculine to her. Isles also said that happiness is okay but, “emotions like sadness, depression and glee are suppressed.” Thompson believes that showing emotion makes a man more masculine. Smith explained, “Being protective and stepping up to be the man is usually associated with masculinity.” Hilliard was passionate about saying that she doesn’t believe in the taboos of emotion within masculinity. “Anybody should be allowed to show emotion and showing emotion shouldn’t be thought of as not masculine.”

Lastly, I asked if masculinity matters to them, especially when it comes to making future relationships, whether it be friends or partners. Thompson, Smith, Hilliard, and Isles all stated that musicality didn’t matter to them when it came to making relationships. Isles said, “As long as the person has honest vibes, it doesn’t matter to me.” However, Mckenna stated that when it comes to picking friends, masculinity doesn’t matter, but it does when picking future partners.

Masculinity can be interpreted in many ways. There are commonalities and popular themes that arise no matter where an individual grew up or how they were raised. These themes can range from a deep voice to an overconfident attitude Even though the interpretations of

masculinity are broad; common and overused ideas dominate the social definition. This creates the general stereotype of masculinity.

Sources:

Meriam-Webster. (n.d.). Masculine. Retrieved November 19, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/masculine

Written By: James Gilbert

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